one hand pointing mean job demands or job pressure concept flat illustration Business about hard work and pressure for presentationCo-author: Tim Fandrey

A corporate client of the firm was recently sued for breach of contract and other violations. However, the company manager found himself facing a personal liability allegation for the company debts.  Why? The petition claimed that personal liability was warranted because the company failed to file a timely Texas franchise tax report.  This failure meant the company forfeited its corporate privileges from the day after the franchise tax report was due until the date when the report was filed and any associated tax liabilities were paid.  However, can this simple failure cause personal liability against the officers and directors for the debts of the corporation? Continue Reading Missing Annual Franchise Tax Reports Can Have Big Consequences

green palm trees covered with snow in unusually cold winterWhen Texas froze in February, I learned a couple of things: i) snow storms have names, and ii) people in my neighborhood aren’t great at covering plants. Those poor sago palms never had a chance.

Compared to the damages to homes and burst pipes throughout the state, clearing out the flower beds after Winter Storm Uri may be just a minor inconvenience, but there was a lot of dead foliage that needed to be replaced and removed all over Texas. Taxpayers should remember that those storm-induced landscaping expenses could qualify for a casualty loss deduction on their income tax returns. Because special tax rules apply to federally declared disaster area losses, potential deductions for property owners include the cost of removing the damaged plants, measures taken to preserve the shrubbery and any replanting costs necessary to restore the property to its approximate value before the casualty. Continue Reading Deduct the Dogwoods: Tax Deductions for Winter Storm Uri Landscaping Expenses

Businessman throwing red arrow dart to virtual target dart board. Setup objectives and target for business investment concept.The IRS has several tools in its arsenal to encourage compliance and audit and enforce those it believes are failing to comply.  One of the most powerful tools is the John Doe summons. A regular IRS summons seeks information on a specific taxpayer.  However, a John Doe summons, as the name implies, involves a group of taxpayers that the IRS cannot identify by name – yet.  Judicial approval is required, but the approval is ex parte (i.e. opposing parties are not notified or can respond before the court rules).  The IRS has used this tool to find tax shelter participants by summonsing the promoters, and most famously foreign banks like UBS, for foreign bank account holders.  The next target, cryptocurrency investors.

The IRS already successfully received thousands of names of account holders from the Coinbase cryptocurrency exchange. Many taxpayers, who received letters from Coinbase about the disclosure, came forward and disclosed assets in their accounts.

The IRS has now secured permission to issue a John Doe summons for cryptocurrency records on payments using a technology company called Circle and another popular cryptocurrency exchange – Kraken. This is all part of what the IRS has called, in public speeches, a “treasure hunt” for unreported cryptocurrency. If you have unreported cryptocurrency transactions, here’s what you should know. Continue Reading The IRS is Hunting for Cryptocurrency Investors with John Doe Summonses

USA patriotic American flag muscular arm flex adorned in red, white and blue stars and stripes, huge bicep, very cool symbol of fitness, pride, strength and motivation. Isolated vector illustration for easy editing.The battle outside ragin’

Will soon shake your windows

And rattle your walls

For the times they are a-changin’

-Bob Dylan

A change in presidential administrations brings with it the uncertainty of what the political, legal and tax landscape will look like in the future. Statements from the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service and the President of the United States are starting to provide clarity of what things will look like going forward.  Here’s what we know and what you, as a taxpayer, should be thinking about as you adjust your financial planning. Continue Reading IRS Commissioner and President Biden Draw Battle Lines

Video archives concept.What do professional athletes, punk artwork and digital kittens have in common?  They are all part of the expansion of valuable collectible assets using cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.  You can collect digital items for your favorite baseball and basketball players and then sell them in online exchanges.  You can also collect and “breed” your own designer CryptoKitties or purchase a digitally created punk portrait using blockchain technology. Investing in valuable collectibles can be both fun and lucrative. There are now thousands of buyers of these new digital collectibles and transactions involve millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency.   The current leader in digital collectibles is NBA Top Shots with an active marketplace where the highest asking prices are hundreds of thousands of dollars. What are the tax consequences of these new assets?  Here are some concepts to consider if you have collectible assets, digital or otherwise. Continue Reading Taxation of Digital Collectibles: Sports, CryptoPunks and CryptoKitties, Oh My!

Overview of the Appeals Process

The goal of the Appeals Office is to settle as many cases as possible within the broad guidelines of its Mission Statement:

The Appeals mission is to resolve tax controversies, without litigation, on a basis which is fair and impartial to both the Government and the taxpayer and in a manner that will enhance voluntary compliance and public confidence in the integrity and efficiency of the Service.

Even though much of the work of Appeals comes from examinations, its jurisdiction has expanded over the last few years.  In examination cases, the taxpayer receives the 30-day letter.  This letter is accompanied by the Revenue Agent Report and gives the taxpayer 30 days to request an Appeals conference.  In most cases, the taxpayer is required to file a protest describing the taxpayer’s position.  If the taxpayer does not request an Appeals conference, then the IRS will send the taxpayer a notice of deficiency.  If the taxpayer files a petition with the Tax Court, and has not had an Appeals conference, the IRS will send the case to Appeals to investigate a possible settlement.  In other types of cases, the IRS will send the taxpayer a letter advising the taxpayer of his right to an Appeals and giving the taxpayer a time limit in which to request an Appeals conference. You file the protest as stated in the letter from the IRS and within the 30-day period.

Continue Reading Going to Appeals – Preparing the Protest

Old axe standing against a piled pieces of firewood in wood“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

― Abraham Lincoln

The Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2015 and fundamentally changed the way partnerships are audited. Under the BBA, the IRS generally assesses and collects any understatement of tax (called an imputed underpayment) at the partnership level. The new rules were applicable to all entities starting on January 1, 2018, unless they are eligible to elect out. A significant uptick in BBA audits hasn’t, for the most part, occurred because of other demands on the IRS. However, a ramp up in BBA audits in 2021 is expected given IRS plans to increase audits on small businesses, usually operating as partnerships, by 50 percent.  Preparation prior to any audit is a good idea, but it is imperative for partnerships navigating new audit rules under BBA.  Here are some ways to sharpen your axe before the audit notice arrives. Continue Reading Is Your Partnership IRS Audit Ready?

Midsection of tax auditor examining documents with magnifying glass at table in officeIf you haven’t read Part 1 of this blogpost, you might appreciate the background in that post.  That post dealt primarily with the concepts of communication during the audit. However, the concepts below should be helpful even without the benefit of Part 1. This post focuses on the concepts of preparation and presentation during the audit.    Continue Reading Tips for Working with IRS Revenue Agents During an Audit – Part 2

Recent decisions have provided taxpayers with new ways to procedurally challenge penalties assessed in their cases.  Joshua D. Smeltzer, former Department of Justice Tax Division litigator now at Gray Reed, recently published an article in the Journal of Tax Practice & Procedure (a quarterly scholarly journal published by CCH Inc.) outlining the questions that taxpayer and their advisors should be asking when they are assessed penalties by the IRS. A reprint of the article is available here.

Stamp IRS audit and accounting documents.Dealing with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is sometimes a difficult and complicated process. Even more so now given the pandemic.  Interactions with a Revenue Agent may not happen in person, but there will be contact with the IRS in some form. At times the procedure of communicating with the IRS is cumbersome, even for the most experienced tax practitioner.  Experience shows that a taxpayer can be successful in dealing with the IRS at all levels with proper communication, preparation and presentation. This post will occur in two parts, the first part will discuss communication and the second part will discuss preparation and presentation. Continue Reading Tips for Working with IRS Revenue Agents During an Audit – Part 1